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After a brilliant youth, the painter Roderic Kennedy's life has been overtaken by a series of crises - alcoholism, the failure of his marriage to an Italian woman and estrangement from his three daughters following his return to Ireland. When he meets Julia Fitzpatrick, twenty years younger than him and also an artist, it seems as if this period of turbulence and misfortune from which he has been struggling to emerge is at an end. But when Julia then meets William Armstrong, a middle-aged lawyer, it sets in motion a chain of events which, in the course of the following year, has dramatic and unforeseen consequences for all three of more

Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 132 x 215 x 28mm | 440g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0571214460
  • 9780571214464
  • 1,154,944

Review Text

Light and colour permeate Deirdre Madden's fine novel about relationships and art. Roderic Kennedy, a talented and highly regarded painter, has reached a time of stability in his life after nearly destroying it with drink. He has re-established contact with his three daughters in Italy, and he and his brother Dennis are learning not to be so dependent on one another. Most importantly, he has met and fallen in love with Julia, a conceptual artist more than 20 years younger than him. One night, in a park in Dublin, Julia takes pity on a stranger despairing of his false life and helps him at what he sees as a turning point. The friendship that develops between her and this stranger - William, a wealthy lawyer - threatens the balance of her relationship with Roderic. The physical contrast between the two men could not be more striking: Roderic is huge, with an imposing and energetic physical presence; William, a frustrated painter, appears restrained and correct, but there is a feeling of repressed anger within him. More importantly, Roderic's drive to paint and his emphasis on learning to look properly at the world underline the difference between his gift and what William is capable of achieving. In the middle is Julia with her fine skin and 'remarkable hair': a great cloud surrounds her face. Deirdre Madden chronicles the interreaction of these three people and takes the reader back to the significant events of the past for Julia and Roderic; there is a slow and satisfying piecing together of their lives that is illuminating and compassionate. However, it is perhaps the way Deirdre Madden sheds light on the nature of art and what is involved in its creation, and the pictures her prose evokes, that make this such an unusual and involving story. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Deirdre Madden

Deirdre Madden is from Toomebridge, Co. Antrim. Her novels include One by One in the Darkness, Authenticity, Molly Fox's Birthday and, most recently, Time Present and Time Past. She has twice been shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She teaches at Trinity College, Dublin, and is a member of the Irish Arts Academy, more
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